Many businesses, from small to large scale enterprises, have embraced digital marketing channels to get as much as 3.3 times better opportunities for expanding their businesses, gather new customers, and increasing their workforce. These channels deliver better and much higher conversion rates, generating revenue growth by as much as 2.8 times better than traditionally marketing channels.
Among the various digital marketing channels available, social media marketing has emerged as one of the most effective tools for generating brand awareness, connect with targeted customers, and drive engagement that generate sales. With online users spending one in every six minutes in social networks, social media marketing is opening new doors for businesses, enabling them to reach out to a multitude of social media users that is increasing by more than 26% this 2015.
But just like any other endeavor, simply jumping into the social media marketing bandwagon doesn’t necessarily mean complete and unconditional success. Digital marketers need to understand that a successful and strategic social media marketing campaign that generates favorable and profitable results rely on Four Pillars as its foundation. The following discusses this 4 pillars in greater detail to help readers understand and execute a successful social media marketing campaign.
Pillar #1 – AUDITING
The first pillar establishes and lets you understand where your business is now in the social media marketing cycle. This involves a thorough analysis of what’s going on with your social media efforts, assuming you already have a social media presence, or an assessment to help you identify what you need to establish if you’ve just started on the social media marketing roadmap.
As part of a continuous improvement effort, social media audits should be performed on a regular and ongoing basis to ensure that your execution do not deviate from your plans and your targeted goals. The following are basic steps that you can use to conduct a social media audit based on an article previously presented by Lifed.
Social Media Landscape – You must first analyze the current state of your social networking strategy and social media presence to help you establish the baseline of your targets and goals. This includes identifying your social media profiles, if any, analyze your strategies and the results generated by those strategies. It also involves analyzing the strategies and social media presence of your competitors as well.
Social Media Activities – This involves an analysis of the kind and type of activities you are doing on the social web, the prioritization of those activities, the nature of the content you are publishing and the frequency of your publications and other social media activities.
Social Media Performance – This step involves an analysis of your current efforts and activities and the results they are generating with respect to your goals. From there, you can then identify needs or required changes to make your social media campaigns generate better results.
Pillar #2 – PLANNING
There are many social media tools available in the market, not to mention the new and upcoming platforms emerging in the social media sphere. Because of this, many digital marketers fall into the error of focusing solely on the tool to be used instead of developing and planning a detailed strategy for their social media marketing campaign. Great social networks that generate favorable results for businesses in terms of their marketing needs are independent of the tools used, but rely on how well you plan and execute your campaigns.
Aside from that, every action and activity you perform – be it a tweet, a comment, a like or a reply – should be done in accordance to a larger plan for executing your social media strategy. Effectiveness in execution and implementation of your planned actions is key to the success of any social media marketing campaign. An article from HootSuite provides a good example of how you can create a social media marketing plan as summarized below:
1. Establish your social media objectives and goals
This will be a very important first step as it serves as your gauge or barometer for assessing where you are now with respect to your goals and success.
2. Perform a social media audit
This step is so important that it warrants being classified as the first pillar of success in strategic social media marketing. HootSuite created a social media audit template that digital marketers can download to help them conduct a social media audit. Using this tool, they can now make assessments on how effective their current social media efforts are and help them identify which channel is working and help them achieve their goals.
3. Identify the social media sites to use
As mentioned earlier, there are several social networks and tools available now to the public, but it is impractical to pursue marketing in ALL these channels. Each platform caters to a different audience and every business caters only to a specific market and not everyone – so focus only on the platform and audiences that apply or are relevant to your business. Factors that you can consider when choosing a social network include:
- The amount of TIME you can devote to your campaign and on a particular social network
- The amount and kind of RESOURCES you have at your disposal that you can use to market on a particular network. Some platforms are text-based while others prefer video or photo – so it would be best to identify which ones will work for you
- The type and demographics of your AUDIENCE you are targeting with your social media campaign. Studies and surveys like the one conducted by Pew Research gives a comprehensive overview of the demographics of the users of the top social network
4. Fully accomplish your social profiles
It is important that your social media profiles contain accurate and up-to-date information about you or your business. Make sure every possible entry and section in your profile are completely filled-up with appropriate content. A complete profile gives the impression that the account holder is professional, thorough and has great attention to details – perfect branding for any business.
5. Establish Mission Statements for Each of your Social Media Profile
Each social media profile is independent of the other so it is important that you create separate mission statements for each. This will help you and your team focus on certain aspects of accomplishing your mission statement in a manner unique to that platform. Forrester’s Social Technology Profile Tool is a good resource to use for learning about your audience in a particular platform which can guide you in creating your mission statement for that platform.
6. Establish a Content Plan and Editorial Calendar
Like any digital marketing channel, content remains the single most important element that will spell success for your campaigns. Establishing a content plan will guide you in identifying the types of content that you will use for a particular social network, plan your post frequency according to your editorial calendar, and form your content creation team.
7. Establish your Posting Strategy
What, when and how often are essential questions that you need to answer to establish a posting strategy that is core to your social media marketing campaign:
The type of content to post is important and dependent on the social network. In Facebook, photos gets the best results, generating 53% more likes, 84% more click throughs and 104% more comments. The same can be said true for Twitter which highlighted that photos create the best impact on retweets.
If you already have a historical audience, you can use the information from your past posts to identify the best time for posting that will result in better engagement. If you’re just starting out on your social media marketing campaign and have no previous audiences yet, the following guide from SumAll can best work for you:
- Twitter – 1-3pm weekdays
- Facebook – 1-4pm and 2-5pm weekdays
- LinkedIn – 7-8:30am and 5-6pm Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday
- Tumblr – 7-10pm weekdays and 4pm on Fridays
- Instagram – 5-6pm weekdays and 8pm on Mondays with a sweetspot at 6pm
- Pinterest – 2-4pm and 8-11pm weekdays with weekends being the best
- Google+ – 9-11am weekdays
- How often
The frequency of posting will depend on your industry and the social media platform you will be using. So, it would be best for you to study the best practices in your industry and social network.
Pillar #3 – IMPLEMENTATION
If you already create a social media marketing plan, the next step is to implement according to your plan. The following important steps described by Investopedia provide a good guide for implementation
- Build – creating your social media profiles in the right platform
- Connect – connect with targeted audiences in a particular platform
- Engage – once you’ve made a connection with targeted audiences, they’ll expect you to participate and engage with them. A good guide for engagement and interaction includes:
- 80% — comments, likes, re-tweeting and participation in social media discussion
- 20% — post your own original content
- Influence – the point to social media marketing is to influence your targeted audiences to perform a preferred next-step action and ultimately their buying decisions. You can do this with your content, credibility and your reach
Pillar #4 – OPTIMIZATION
Once you’ve implemented your social media marketing campaign according to your plan, you can then now test, evaluate and make adjustments to your plan according to the results of your initial actions. There are many tools available depending on the social network you are targeting like Facebook Insights which gives valuable information on your social media presence traffic. Other tools that you can use include:
In a rapidly changing online world, doing the right thing in the right marketing platform is important for the success and survival of any business in a very competitive market now and beyond. In social media marketing, it is vital that you establish a good foundation first with these four pillars – and you’re on your way to successful strategic social media marketing campaign.